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Scafetta’s new paper attempts to link climate cycles to planetary motion ( March 2012)
Watts Up With That? ^ | March 21, 2012 | Anthony Watts

Posted on 08/08/2012 12:52:53 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Nicola Scafetta sent me this paper yesterday, and I read it with interest, but I have a number of reservations about it, not the least of which is that it is partially based on the work of Landscheidt and the whole barycentric thing which gets certain people into shouting matches. Figure 9 looks to be interesting, but note that it is in generic units, not temperature, so has no predictive value by itself.

Fig. 9. Proposed solar harmonic reconstructions based on four beat frequencies. (Top) Average beat envelope function of the model (Eq. (18)) and (Bottom) the version modulated with a millennial cycle (Eq. (21)). The curves may approximately represent an estimate average harmonic component function of solar activity both in luminosity and magnetic activity. The warm and cold periods of the Earth history are indicated as in Fig. 7. Note that the amplitudes of the constituent harmonics are not optimized and can be adjusted for alternative scenarios. However, the bottom curve approximately reproduces the patterns observed in the proxy solar models depicted in Fig. 5. The latter record may be considered as a realistic, although schematic, representation of solar dynamics.

While that looks like a good hindcast fit to historical warm/cold periods, compare it to figure 7 to see how it comes out.

Fig. 7. Modulated three-frequency harmonic model, Eq. (8) (which represents an ideal solar activity variation) versus the Northern Hemisphere proxy temperature reconstruction by Ljungqvist (2010). Note the good timing matching of the millenarian cycle and the 17 115-year cycles between the two records. The Roman Warm Period (RWP), Dark Age Cold Period (DACP), Medieval Warm Period (MWP), Little Ice Age (LIA) and Current Warm Period (CWP) are indicated in the figure. At the bottom: the model harmonic (blue) with period P12=114.783 and phase T12=1980.528 calculated using Eq. (7); the 165-year smooth residual of the temperature signal. The correlation coefficient is r0=0.3 for 200 points, which indicates that the 115-year cycles in the two curves are well correlated (P(|r|≥r0)<0.1%). The 115-year cycle reached a maximum in 1980.5 and will reach a new minimum in 2037.9 A.D.

Now indeed, that looks like a great fit to the Ljungqvist proxy temperature reconstruction, but the question arises about whether we are simply seeing a coincidental cyclic fit or a real effect. I asked Dr. Leif Svalgaard about his views on this paper and he replied with this:

The real test of all this cannot come from the proxies we have because the time scales are too short, but from comparisons with other stellar systems where the effects are calculated to be millions of times stronger [because the planets are huge and MUCH closer to the star]. No correlations have been found so far.

See slide 19 of my AGU presentation:

So, it would seem, that if the gravitational barycentric effect posited were real, it should be easily observable with solar systems of much larger masses. Poppenhager and Schmitt can’t seem to find it.

OTOH, we have what appears to be a good fit by Scafetta in Figure 7. So this leaves us with three possibilities

  1. The effect manifests itself in some other way not yet observed.
  2. The effect is coincidental but not causative.
  3. The effect is real, but unproven yet by observations and predictive value.

I’m leaning more towards #2 at this point but willing to examine the predictive value. As Dr. Svalgaard points out in his AGU presentation, others have tried  but the fit eventually broke down. From slide 14

P. D. Jose (ApJ, 70, 1965) noted that the Sun’s motion about the Center of Mass of the solar system [the Barycenter] has a period of 178.7 yr and suggested that the sunspot cycles repeat with a similar period. Many later researchers have published variations of this idea. - Unfortunately a ‘phase catastrophe’ is needed every ~8 solar cycles

Hindcasting can be something you can easily setup to fool yourself with if you are not careful, and I’m a bit concerned over the quality of the peer review for this paper as it contains two instances of Scafetta’s signature overuse of exclamation points, something that a careful reviewer would probably not let pass.

Science done carefully rarely merits an exclamation point. Papers written that way sound as if you are shouting down to the reader.

The true test will be the predictive value, as Scafetta has been doing with his recent essays here at WUWT. I’m willing to see how well this pans out, but I’m skeptical of the method until proven by a skillful predictive forecast. Unfortunately it will be awhile before that happens as solar timescales far exceed human lifespan.

Below I present the abstract, plus a link to the full paper provided by Dr. Scafetta.


Multi-scale harmonic model for solar and climate cyclical variation throughout the Holocene based on Jupiter–Saturn tidal frequencies plus the 11-year solar dynamo cycle

ScienceDirect link

Nicola Scafetta, ACRIM (Active Cavity Radiometer Solar Irradiance Monitor Lab) & Duke University, Durham, NC 27708, USA


The Schwabe frequency band of the Zurich sunspot record since 1749 is found to be made of three major cycles with periods of about 9.98, 10.9 and 11.86 years. The side frequencies appear to be closely related to the spring tidal period of Jupiter and Saturn (range between 9.5 and 10.5 years, and median 9.93 years) and to the tidal sidereal period of Jupiter (about 11.86 years). The central cycle may be associated to a quasi-11-year solar dynamo cycle that appears to be approximately synchronized to the average of the two planetary frequencies. A simplified harmonic constituent model based on the above two planetary tidal frequencies and on the exact dates of Jupiter and Saturn planetary tidal phases, plus a theoretically deduced 10.87-year central cycle reveals complex quasi-periodic interference/beat patterns. The major beat periods occur at about 115, 61 and 130 years, plus a quasi-millennial large beat cycle around 983 years. We show that equivalent synchronized cycles are found in cosmogenic records used to reconstruct solar activity and in proxy climate records throughout the Holocene (last 12,000 years) up to now. The quasi-secular beat oscillations hindcast reasonably well the known prolonged periods of low solar activity during the last millennium such as the Oort, Wolf, Spörer, Maunder and Dalton minima, as well as the 17 115-year long oscillations found in a detailed temperature reconstruction of the Northern Hemisphere covering the last 2000 years. The millennial three-frequency beat cycle hindcasts equivalent solar and climate cycles for 12,000 years. Finally, the harmonic model herein proposed reconstructs the prolonged solar minima that occurred during 1900–1920 and 1960–1980 and the secular solar maxima around 1870–1890, 1940–1950 and 1995–2005 and a secular upward trending during the 20th century: this modulated trending agrees well with some solar proxy model, with the ACRIM TSI satellite composite and with the global surface temperature modulation since 1850. The model forecasts a new prolonged solar minimum during 2020–2045, which would be produced by the minima of both the 61 and 115-year reconstructed cycles. Finally, the model predicts that during low solar activity periods, the solar cycle length tends to be longer, as some researchers have claimed. These results clearly indicate that both solar and climate oscillations are linked to planetary motion and, furthermore, their timing can be reasonably hindcast and forecast for decades, centuries and millennia. The demonstrated geometrical synchronicity between solar and climate data patterns with the proposed solar/planetary harmonic model rebuts a major critique (by Smythe and Eddy, 1977) of the theory of planetary tidal influence on the Sun. Other qualitative discussions are added about the plausibility of a planetary influence on solar activity.

Link to paper: Scafetta_JStides

UPDATE 3/22/2012 – 1:15PM Dr. Scafetta responds in comments:

About the initial comment from Antony above,I believe that there are he might have misunderstood some part of the paper.

I am not arguing from the barycentric point of view, which is false. In the paper I am talking
about tidal dynamics, a quite different approach. My argument
is based on the finding of my figure 2 and 3 that reveal the sunspot record
as made of three cycles (two tidal frequencies, on the side, plus a central
dynamo cycle). Then the model was developed and its hindcast
tests were discissed in the paper, etc.

{from Anthony – Note these references in your paper: Landscheidt, T.,1988.Solar rotation,impulses of the torque in sun’s motion, and
climate change. Climatic Change12,265–295.
Landscheidt, T.,1999.Extrema in sunspot cycle linked toSun’s motion. Solar
Physics 189,415–426.}

There are numerous misconceptions since the beginning such as “Figure 9 looks to be interesting, but note that it is in generic units, not temperature, so has no predictive value by itself.”

It is a hindcast and prediction. There is no need to use specific units, but only dynamics. The units are interpreted correctly in the text of the paper as being approximately W/m^2 and as I say in the caption of the figure “However, the bottom curve approximately reproduces the patterns observed in the proxy solar models depicted in Fig. 5. The latter record may be considered as a realistic, although schematic, representation of solar dynamics.”

{from Anthony – if it isn’t using units of temperature, I fail to see how it can be of predictive value, there is not even any reference to warmer/cooler}

3) About Leif’s comments. It is important to realize that Solar physics is not “settled” physics. People do not even understand why the sun has a 11-year cycle (which is between the 10 and 12 year J/S tidal frequencies, as explained in my paper).

The only argument advanced by Leif against my paper is that the phenomenon is his opinion was not observed in other stars. This is hardly surprising. We do not have accurate nor long records about other stars!

Moreover we need to observe the right thing, for example, even if you have a large planet very close to a star, the observable effect is associated to many things: how eccentric the orbits are and how big the star is, and its composition etc. Stars have a huge inertia to tidal effects and even if you have a planet large and close enough to the star to produce a theoretical 4,000,000 larger tidal effect, it does not means that the response from the star must be linear! Even simple elastic systems may be quite sensitive to small perturbations but become extremely rigid to large and rapid perturbations, etc.

It is evident that any study on planetary influence on a star needs to start from the sun, and then eventually extended to other star systems, but probably we need to wait several decades before having sufficiently long records about other stars!

In the case of the sun I needed at least a 200 year long sunspot record to
detect the three Schwabe cycles, and at least 1000 years of data for
hindcast tests to check the other frequencies. People can do the math for how long we need to wait for the other stars before having long enogh records.

Moreover, I believe that many readers have a typical misconception of physics.

In science a model has a physical basis when it is based on the observations
and the data and it is able to reconstruct, hindcast and/or forecast them.
It is evident to everybody reading my paper with an open mind that under the scientific
method, the model I proposed is “physically based” because I am
describing and reconstructing the dynamical properties of the data and I
showed that the model is able to hindcast millennia long data records.
Nobody even came close to these achievements.

To say otherwise would mean to reject everything in science and physics
because all findings and laws of physics are based on the observations and
the data and are tested on their capability of reconstruct, hindcast and/or
forecast observations, as I did in the paper

Of course, pointing out that I was not solving the problem using for example
plasma physics or quantum mechanics or whatever else. But this is a complex
exercise that needs its own time. As I correctly say in the paper.

“Further research should address the physical mechanisms necessary to
integrate planetary tides and solar dynamo physics for a more physically
based model.”

TOPICS: Conspiracy; Science; Weather
KEYWORDS: anthonywatts; catastrophism; chandlerswobble; chandlerwobble; climatechange; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax; godsgravesglyphs; hd168443; landscheidt; milankovic; milankovitch; nicolascafetta; poleshift; xplanets
This has an extraordinary number of comments at WUWT.....


536 Responses to Scafetta’s new paper attempts to link climate cycles to planetary motion

1 posted on 08/08/2012 12:53:03 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: TigerLikesRooster; landsbaum; Signalman; NormsRevenge; steelyourfaith; Lancey Howard; ...
Came across this from reading thru the comments on James Hansen's paper posted yesterday on FR.

For those that like to munch on meaty topics,.....this might qualify!

For me...still mediating on the local SoCal earthquake of 4.5 this morning.

2 posted on 08/08/2012 1:01:50 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: All
Posted earlier today....the Global Warming hoax continues:

NASA’s James Hansen’s big cherry pick ( Summer heat... caused by Global Warming )

3 posted on 08/08/2012 1:11:05 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Did you feel any earth movement?

4 posted on 08/08/2012 1:20:40 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Post #3. Again and again I shall ask thee. Why is this radical goon not wearing ankle cuffs while occupying a prison cell. :)
As for main article. Interesting. But I only quick scanned it. My eyeballs don't seem focused on things to well today.
5 posted on 08/08/2012 1:25:43 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned.)
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To: Marine_Uncle

It rocked my Monitor pretty good.

6 posted on 08/08/2012 1:31:07 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Marine_Uncle

I can tell you about eyeball problems....

7 posted on 08/08/2012 1:33:01 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I remember last year shaken from sleep as a minor earthquake occured in Philly. Weird as hell, laying on the bed and swaying like I was in a row boat being lifted and lowered by a series of waves.
"I can tell you about eyeball problems...."
My brain is sort of on the shot mode today.
8 posted on 08/08/2012 1:38:56 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Honor must be earned.)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

I have always appreciated the observation of cycles.

The ancients were not great mathematicians actually. What they were were great at is in beng consistent and persistent observers, and in doing so became great at recording what had been observed, over hundreds if not thousands of years, and by that long, consistent and persistent process became great at seeing, in the recorded history of what they observed, the cycles in those observations.

The impetus for Astronomy, the Zodiacs and Astrology were born from, and set to the task of, seeing what’s coming, from the many cycles of things as that had happened before, and the guideposts of new cycles rising and falling in the most recent observations.

Yes, they had different views than modern humans about who or who all was in charge of what they observed. That’s another issue.

My point is that they had respect for the natural cycles, because they had long histories of seeing them in the past, and by seeing I mean seeing the guideposts of the pending changes the history of cycles had showed to them.

Yes, they prayed to G-d/the G-ds about what they thought was coming. That’s another issue and not my concern in this.

They respected the natural cycles, that they existed and that they were important.

Modern humans don’t.

They think the world they were given is “how things are supposed to be” and when nature says: “No, what you are given is a system that is always changing”, they don’t believe it, they think the changes mean “something must be wrong”. Then, like ancient star-g-d worshipers the very next instinct is: “we’ve angered[ignored/betrayed] the g-ds/nature someway”.

What is the 24 hour period with the most daylight time? It’s the day just before the amount of time without sunlight begins to increase in each 24 hour period.

What is the coldest time of the year - the peak of winter just before cold begins to recede. What is the hottest time of the year - the peak of summer just before the heat begins to

It would be funny, to me, if the next decade began to tell us we are, right now, at the peak of a warming era and the cusp of a cold era, by virtue of the natural cycles.

Of course for a while it won’t change the politics. All change and especially change more often will only find it’s cause in man, not in natural cycles. Until.....?

9 posted on 08/08/2012 3:25:25 PM PDT by Wuli
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; 75thOVI; agrace; aimhigh; Alice in Wonderland; AndrewC; aragorn; ...
Thanks Ernest.

10 posted on 08/08/2012 4:50:45 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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To: KevinDavis; annie laurie; Knitting A Conundrum; Viking2002; Ernest_at_the_Beach; Mmogamer; ...
Thanks Ernest_at_the_Beach. Interesting exoplanetary angle in this one.
· join · view topics · view or post blog · bookmark · " target="x" title="post a new topic">post new topic · subscribe ·
Google news searches: exoplanet · exosolar · extrasolar ·

11 posted on 08/08/2012 4:53:09 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; StayAt HomeMother; decimon; 1010RD; 21twelve; 24Karet; 2ndDivisionVet; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Ernest. Nice three-lister topic!

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.

12 posted on 08/08/2012 4:55:20 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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milankovitch (image search):

13 posted on 08/08/2012 4:57:32 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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chandler wobble (image search):

14 posted on 08/08/2012 4:58:52 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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To: SunkenCiv
Well what about this:

Chandler's Wobble' may usher in a new ice age


Posted: Monday, February 28, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 11:44 pm, Sun Mar 6, 2011.

'Chandler's Wobble' may usher in a new ice age 9 comments

Last week in 'Gems,' we reported that NASA has discovered 'cracks' in the fluctuating earth's magnetic field.

This is worrisome, because this magnetic field affects the ionosphere, and particularly the winds in the lower troposphere. These 'cracks' in the magnetic field and the shifting of our planet's magnetic poles can lead to SUPER STORMS on virtually every continent like we've seen in recent months.

This month's mega-monster cyclone 'Yasi' left much of northeastern Australia in Queensland a "war zone," according to rescue workers. This incredible storm packed winds near 190 miles per hour. Although it was labeled as a Category '5' cyclone (hurricane/typhoon), theoretically it was an 'off the scale' Category '6'!

Tens of thousands of homes were severely damaged or destroyed. Hundreds of people died. Livestock herds were decimated. There were reports of "sharks swimming through the flooded houses."

As if these worsening superstorms aren't enough, we have 'Chandler's Wobble' to worry about.

It was first discovered by an American astronomer in 1891 by the name of Seth Carlo Chandler. Chandler said that the earth "wobbles like a top" whenever our planet slows down a bit in its rotation like it has in recent years.

According to NASA, "the track of this spin began to slow down very slightly about Jan. 18, 2006." Since then, we've had a series of EXTREMELY HARSH winter seasons in both hemispheres.

If this 'wobble' of the planet continues, it's entirely possible that we will eventually see at least a new 'Little Ice Age,' maybe even a new GREAT ICE AGE like the one approximately 11,500 years ago.

But, in the meantime, most climate scientists are predicting increasing volcanic activity, which could lead to additional global cooling, more frequent earthquakes like the deadly tremor in New Zealand this past week, an increased number of deadly 'tsunamis,' colder and snowier winter seasons, cooler, shorter summer growing periods and more catastrophic superstorms resulting in widespread famines from food shortages.

Stay tuned. In this worst cycle of WIDE WEATHER 'EXTREMES' in at least 1000 years, virtually ANYTHING can happen, weatherwise and otherwise. Believe it!


It's certainly been the 'tale of two winters' across the Inland Northwest. We had our first BLIZZARD WARNING in the Coeur d'Alene area in more than three years Wednesday night and Thursday morning that led to more than 160 school closures in the region, the most since 2008. Even North Idaho College, where Randy Mann teaches Physical Geography, closed for the day.

As of 10 a.m. on Thursday, when I wrote this column, we had picked up nearly 11 inches of dry, powdery, wind-driven snow at my station on Player Drive. Drifts exceeded three feet in places. The wind-chill factor was a bitter minus-18 degrees. Our weather-watcher in Dalton Gardens measured a whopping 14 inches of the white stuff in the 36-hour period ending at 8 a.m. on Thursday. This was 'double' the 7 inches of snow that most stations from Athol northward in the colder air received in the same time span.

In fact, due to the southward path of many storms this 'fickle' winter of 2010-11, I've measured a third more snowfall this season at my station than my friend Mark Dymkoski has gauged at his place two miles east of Twin Lakes, in the usual 'snowbelt' zone. This is a complete 'reversal' of normal snowfall patterns.

As of 10 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24, I had measured 99.2 inches of snow for the season on Player Drive, a tad under the 100-inch mark. It's quite possible that we will eventually reach 115 to 120 inches or more this winter, if March and April turn out to be snowier than usual as expected. March is due to come 'in like a snowy leopard' this next Tuesday as another winter storm bears down on the region.

It's amazing that November and February - like 'frigid bookends' - turned out to be much colder and snowier than the mid-winter months of December and January. This has happened only five times since 1895.

November was the snowiest such period on record in the Coeur d'Alene area in 2010 with an incredible 38.3 inches of the white stuff. There were two mornings just ahead of Thanksgiving with record subzero readings near minus-10 degrees in the region.

Following similar subzero temperatures in North Idaho this weekend, more moderate to heavy snows from milder air 'overriding' the Arctic dome entrenched in the region will likely push our February snowfall total by Monday evening to near or above two feet. That would bring our seasonal total to at least 105 inches, probably more.

This means that this winter season will make an all-time record three winters-out-of-four with total snowfall amounts above the 100-inch mark in Coeur d'Alene. Only last winter, during a mild El Nino, did we see a far below normal seasonal snowfall total of just 18.4 inches, the ninth least winter snowfall since 1895.

But, that's North Idaho weather for ya ... ONE WIDE 'EXTREME' to the other in short order.

What's next? Stay tuned.

Cliff Harris is a climatologist who writes a weekly column for The Press. His opinions are his own. E-mail

15 posted on 08/09/2012 10:32:10 PM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Yeah, I always get a good laugh out of stuff like that. :’)

16 posted on 08/14/2012 3:58:24 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (
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